Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Camping Season

We are a sports family.  (Well, some of us are.  This past Sunday in Jessica's primary class, the subject of the BYU-Utah rivarly game came up-a bit of a sore spot for those who love the cougars!  Some of the kids said, "I love BYU!"  Some of the less-fortunate kids said, "I love Utah!" Jessica said, "I don't like BYU or Utah.  I love ballet!")  Taylor, Parker, Christi and I love college football.  Sophi is on the right path.  Graci hates it.  Since Graci hates it, Jesi hates it.  Lexi is ambivalent.  Xander wants to like it, but can't understand it.  (He and I have a date this Thursday to watch the BYU-Boise State game.  I've committed to help him understand how it's played:)  So many of us like to watch our sports.  Taylor and Parker are also great athletes.  They both play baseball and basketball, with  basketball being their first love.  These two sports keep us busy from November until June.  Then comes camping season!  Love it!  No games.  No practices.  A time to rejuvenate, relax, and enjoy the fabulous fall (and summer) weather in Utah's great outdoors.  (Not sure how many more years I'll be able to talk the boys out of playing football, but so far, so good!)

This is our camping season.  And for those of you who have followed us for awhile, you know that one of our favorite trips is Lone Peak.  The have been several memorable moments on our trips.  The first year (2008-Parker was just 7!) was the we-ran-out-of-matches-before-we-could-start-a-fire-and-boy-were-we-glad-we-brought-the-emergency-magnesium-fire-starter year.  It was also the year I had to alternate carrying the boys' packs on one of my arms 'cuz they just couldn't do it on their own.  And it was the infamous, "I think I saw a bear!" year.  (We do take a can of bear spray with us each time we go, although we've never had the occasion to use it.)  The second year was the never-drop-your-sleeping-bag-over-the-edge-of-a-cliff year.  This experience prompted my development of the oft-quoted first law of camping:  "Don't be stupid!"  (Christi is not a huge fan of this law, but Taylor, Parker and I just see the simple brilliance in it:)  The third year was the Dad-left-his-money-clip-at-home-and-now-we-can't-buy-some-of-the-snacks-we-were-going-to-get year.  And the fourth year was the we-finally-made-it-down-the-mountain-but-dad-locked-the-keys-in-the-car-and-his-cellphone-is-dead year.  Fortunately, that was the one time Christi couldn't make it, so she drove the 30 miles to bring us a spare set of keys.  Despite the challenging moments, each time we go, the experience is amazing and the views are spectacular.

This past weekend we went again.  It was a fantastic trip.  We started up the trail around 5pm on Friday:

Yes, that is a loaf of french bread on top of Parker's backpack.  On our very first trip we stopped at Smith's to get some snacks.  Christi suggested we get some french bread to bring along.  I admit I ridiculed her a bit for attaching a loaf of bread to her backpack, but after toasting it by the fire that night, we were all sold, and that loaf of french bread has been on the menu every trip since.

In the parking lot we met another hiker who was heading up.  We're not exactly speed-hikers, so we figured he might beat us up there.  I asked where he was planning to camp.  He said it was a secluded spot above the waterfall.  Our hearts sank as we thought he might take our campsite.  Christi quickly said, "Sounds like the same place we're headed to.  I guess we can camp together."  Smart girl.  This guy obviously wanted to be up there by himself.  We saw him at the top, but he stayed away from "our spot."  This year in addition to the usual mango, jerky and starbursts, I packed each of us a bag of grapes and a bag of carrots to keep us going.  Loved the grapes.  Great hiking food.

We made a few stops on the way up and then the boys enjoyed the views from our lookout rock:

The sunset that night was spectacular:

The night went well for awhile.  We had a great dinner of sweet and sour pork and turkey tetrazini (and french bread:)  We finished up with s'mores.  We were just getting ready to hike back up to the rock to enjoy the night sky.  Parker looked up at the hillside directly north of our campsite.  He stared at it for a few minutes and then asked, "What's that?"  We all looked.  It was dark by now.  We saw what looked like smoke coming up over the hillside next to us.  It had a faint reddish glow.  Unless you live under a rock, you know that this has been a terrible year for forest fires in the west.  We have suffered through several in Utah, including one in July which was only a couple of miles from where we were camping.  What we saw that night really looked like a forest fire had developed and was headed our way.  We didn't panic.  (Well, most of us didn't.  No names will be mentioned:) We called Christi's brother Matthew and asked if he had heard anything about a forest fire near where we were.  He said no, but that he would look online and call us back.  In the meantime, we went into let's-get-out-of-here mode.  We packed up just about everything in camp and were preparing to hike down the very steep three-mile-long trail in the dark.  Matthew called back and said there was a small, older fire that was completely contained at this point, but that was all.

So we had to decide what to do.  Matthew had received his information from the Alpine City fire department, and believe me, if a fire was putting off the kind of smoke we thought we were seeing, Alpine would know about it.  So we said a prayer and decided to go up to our rock and see if we could get a better view of what was going on.  Once we got there (and knowing that there wasn't a raging fire nearby) we figured out that we had seen a high cloud bank (in an otherwise cloudless sky) come into view over the hill next to us.  The orange glow was the reflection of the light in Salt Lake City.  How dumb did we feel.  Hiking down the mountain at 10pm would have been a serious violation of the first law of camping!!!  How grateful we were that we had cell service and could get some information quickly.  And how glad we were that we didn't go find that other camper and frantically tell him he needed to evacuate (as was our plan while WE were frantically planning our own evacuation!)
We got back to camp and laid out our beds again and tried to sleep.  Taylor slept like a log.  Parker woke up three times, which to him was a lousy night's sleep.  Christi and I tossed and turned all night.  It's a bummer how getting old makes camping so much less restful.  The next morning we enjoyed one last  moment with our breathtaking views:

On the way back down, we always try to stop at horsetail falls.  Many people come up the trail part of the way and get to a viewpoint where this waterfall is visible.  It's beautiful, but these people are really missing out by not going all the way there.  When I first visited the falls back in college, the friend who took us there only knew one way to get there.  We had to bushwhack through some pretty steep and overgrown terrain.  But the falls was absolutely worth it.  A couple of years ago, we found a relatively easy trail and now make it there without any troubles.  The water is very, very cold, but we are very, very brave, hence:

Now Christi, on the other hand, was not so brave.  She delicately dipped her toes in the water, adamantly refused to sit in the waterfall.  We coaxed and cajoled, but to no avail.  Then I had a brainstorm.  We promised her that we would each make dinner for two nights if she would go in.  It took her no time at all to agree to that deal:


  1. Miss a minute and miss a lot with you guys!!

    First off - a happy if belated Birthday Christi! You'll never catch up to me but at least I'll never be twice as old as you! ;) So cool that you had a nice dinner with the clan - that really counts and y'all have much more courage than I!

    And remembering the past on your birthday is a good thing - a really really good thing!

    As for the camping adventure - it's always good to know that I'm not the only one that carries a mag match - I've given one to each of the kids to carry as well as they get older - nothing like using 1800 degrees to ligth a fire in the rain!

    But best - it's always good to have a "God moment" - and it lends new meaning to "a little birdie told me"...

    love you guys - hugs around - aus and co.

  2. What fun! Great trade, Christi...totally worth it!

  3. Fun! What fun traditions! Although I do need to put a plug in--how does all of that (minus the falls) plus clay pigeon shooting, horseback riding, four wheeling, hiking, dutch oven, AND sleeping in a comfy bed sound??? COME TO OUR CABIN!!!!!!!

  4. I agree with leslie!! 'Cause we've been there, done that, and plan on doing it in the future ,and it's fantastic!!! You should do both! Also, I think Christi looks the bravest of all in the falls!! You go, girl (as they say)!! Loved all your posts and pics!

  5. I agree with leslie!! 'Cause we've been there, done that, and plan on doing it in the future ,and it's fantastic!!! You should do both! Also, I think Christi looks the bravest of all in the falls!! You go, girl (as they say)!! Loved all your posts and pics!